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RD-180 is a rocket engine produced by Russian NPO Energomash company. It is used in such US rockets as Atlas III and Atlas V. There are rumors, that Russia is considering to ban RD-180 export to US.

How would that affect the US space program?

Does Lockheed have some other engine to use instead, or the ban means the end of Atlas rockets?

Will NASA be able to perform the same tasks it does with Atlas using Delta and Falcon rockets, or does the ban open an empty niche?

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  • $\begingroup$ What information do you need beyond what is stated in the wiki article you linked? "Despite the availability of necessary documentation and legal rights for producing RD-180 in the United States, NASA is considering development of an indigenous core stage engine that would be 'capable of generating high levels of thrust approximately equal to or exceeding the performance of the Russian-built engine.' NASA intends to produce a fully operational engine by 2020, or sooner if it can establish a partnership with the U.S. Defense Department." $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Sep 9 '13 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ What about licensed production of RD-180s in the States? $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Sep 9 '13 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ horsh, is there a specific reason you're questioning the data you already have? $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Sep 12 '13 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ I'm apologize, but i have no see any problem in USA's space program without Russia. Have you? $\endgroup$ – innocent-world Sep 18 '13 at 9:09
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This blog post does a pretty good job of answering this question. I'll pick out a couple of the most relevant points.

First, the report itself should be taken with a grain of salt. It appeared on RT.com (which has a history of publishing stories with inflammatory headlines), and cites a story from a Russian news paper which quotes an unnamed source as saying the ban is "under consideration". Hardly convincing.

Second, the inventory of existing engines is enough to keep the Atlas program going for "several years", according to ULA.

Finally, if necessary, production of the engines could (theoretically) be done in the U.S. The article notes that this was one of the conditions of allowing the use of a Russian engine in the EELV program. The article also notes, however, that there have long been doubts about whether Russia would actually hand over the blueprints.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not that the lack of blueprints would necessarily have been a showstopper, given that there are, and were at the time, plenty of RD-180s in American hands ready to reverse-engineer. $\endgroup$ – Sean Jun 5 at 3:12

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